Sometimes he obsessed over the three or four paragraphs out of 200 that described him as impulsive, because he hated the idea that he was impulsive, and he hated having it pointed out, even though, of course, he was totally impulsive, and after five minutes with him it was impossible for anyone not to point it out, whether the visitor was nine or 90. But he knew better than to pay a whole lot of attention to the cacophony of what was written.
Most of all, he knew better on November nights such as this one -- a silent race through the city where nothing he did could make any difference. Up until the shots rang
But then, just around 6:00 p.m., came the crackle of gunfire on a West Philadelphia street and reports that two Philadelphia narcotics officers had been shot during an undercover drug deal. One of the officers had suffered a relatively minor graze wound in the hand. But the other, a three-year veteran of the force named Dathan Enoch, had been shot in the left side of the chest and rushed to Lankenau Hospital just outside the city limits. As Enoch underwent surgery, members of his family began to gather in a makeshift reception room. High-ranking members of the police department arrived. And so did several members of the mayor's office: David L. Cohen, the chief of staff, who, like Radar in M*A*S*H, had the ability to be in the right place well before anyone even knew there was a right place; and Anthony Buchanico, a police sergeant in charge of security for the mayor.
Rendell himself was en route. In the meantime, about 20 people awkwardly milled about, speaking to one another in small and hushed circles, waiting for some glimmer to indicate that Enoch was not going to die. When unofficial word filtered into the room that he was going to make it, the relief was palpable -- among the family members sitting around one of the tables in a silent knot, among the police officials who several months earlier had gathered outside a city church on a blue and windswept day to say good-bye to a fellow officer who had been killed in the line of duty during what should have been a routine traffic stop. There would also be relief for the mayor himself, who hated hospital scenes such as this in an almost pathological way, perhaps because they conflicted so terribly with his eternal sense of optimism and served as a brutal reminder of all that the city wasn't, but perhaps also because they echoed the death of his own father when he was 14 years old.
The mood of the room lifted with the news of Enoch's recovery. And then came the crackle and pop over a small radio receiver that one of the officers carried, followed by the flat voice of a dispatcher:
Buchanico, who had spent 29 years as a police officer in the city, 21 of them in uniform, strained to hear the words as if they were some kind of macabre joke. He grabbed the radio and went outside so he could better hear the toneless words of the dispatcher.
There were more crackles and pops over the radio, then the words:
"Officer assist." Continued...
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